By Elesha George
The Police Service Commission (PSC) has won its appeal calling for the review of a decision made by Justice Ann-Marie Smith where she declared that the termination of former Commissioner of Police, Wendel Robinson was unlawful.
Justice Smith’s judgement to compensate the former commissioner and to rule that the appointment of the current commissioner is unlawful, has therefore been set aside.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) was unanimous in its ruling to quash the decision of Justice Smith and to return the case to the High Court for full arguments to be heard by a different judge.
The Court, headed by Chief Justice Janice Pereira, reportedly found inconsistencies and irregularities in the manner in which the matter was handled by the judge.
This decision followed an application by Robinson’s lawyer citing that his dismissal by the PSC was unconstitutional.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Justice Smith ruled in favour of Robinson and subsequently denied a stay of judgement of her decision which would require Robinson to be compensated and which recognised him as the legitimate head of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda (RPFAB).
Dissatisfied with the judge’s decision, the PSC’s lawyers successfully appealed in the Supreme Court on Friday, May 21.
Dr David Dorsett, who represents the commission argued that “you cannot bring a constitutional motion saying that your constitutional rights have been violated when the constitution doesn’t give you the rights that you are claiming”.
Robinson, he said, made a declaration under Section 105 of the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda which speaks to the powers of the PSC to appoint, disappoint and suspend an officer.
“The claim should be struck out,” he exclaimed, claiming that Justice Smith ignored due process when she allowed it go through.
“Mr Robinson has filed an appeal with the Public Service Board of Appeal, complaining that his termination was wrong and that is the avenue provided by the constitution to make such a complaint. He needs to confine himself to what the constitution provides,” he added.
Meanwhile, the court of appeal said it does not agree that Robinson’s second suspension, which occurred mere hours after a judge ordered that he be reinstated as commissioner in October 2018, is merely academic.
Robinson was terminated by the PSC in November 2019, months after he was suspended for allegations of improper conduct while in office.